Jokha Alharthi’s latest book in English, the Bitter Orange Tree, is another reflection, through the eyes of a protagonist, about several generations of an Omani family.
In the Bitter Orange Tree Zuhour, who is the protagonist, arrives in a snow covered British city to study. She slumps into a mournful reflection about a newly dead ‘grandmother, a miserable older sister and a depressed mother.
Zuhour lyrically remembers her grandmother’s scent of “civet musk, precious aloeswood oil, and ancient soil”.
As with Jokha Alharthi’s last English language novel, the International Booker winner Celestial Bodies, the Bitter Orange Tree weaves the stories of several characters into the narrative. It also creates what might appear to be scenes taken from a lived life.
The Bitter Orange Tree is also translated by Marilyn Booth who undertook the translation for Celestial Bodies. Jokha is a professor at Sultan Qaboos University, having obtained a PhD in classical Arabic literature from the northern British city of Edinburgh’s University.
Scribner, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, has published the book.